Dortch one-hits Vikings twice
Batting against one of the area’s top pitchers made hits scarce for the South Tahoe Vikings in their home-opening softball doubleheader Saturday at Todd Fields.
Northern Illinois recruit Megan Dortch, a junior pitcher, limited the Vikings to a hit in each game of the Bishop Manogue Miners’ doubleheader sweep, 3-1 and 3-0. Dortch has pitched every inning in all of the Miners’ games this season.
Backinger broke up Dortch’s second-game no-hitter by singling to right field with one out in the seventh inning.
“It’s hard because she’s such a good pitcher,” said Backinger, who also had the only hit off Dortch in the opener. “It wasn’t the best hit, but it dropped, so I’ll take it.”
With the Vikings’ home field at the Field of Dreams still saturated, the softball team was able to make a rare appearance at Todd Fields where the JV baseball team normally plays.
“We like playing here. The baseball team helped us out and let us play here,” South Tahoe coach Anneliese Neitling said. “It’s nice having the games right next to each other.”
The playoff-contending Miners had to sweat out the win in game two when the Vikings put runners on second and third bases with one out in the sixth and Manogue only leading 1-0. But Manogue picked off a runner at third base and got out of the jam on a groundout.
“We always have girls in scoring position. We have to execute as hitters to get them in,” Neitling said. “We leave a lot of girls on base.”
Backinger tossed five innings in the opener, while Mel Smith threw two shutout frames. Smith started the second game, and behind her arm and a strong defensive effort, the Miners scored just once through five innings.
“Melissa was keeping them in the game,” said Manogue coach Dave Hargrove.
Reliever Krissy Guarino pitched the final two innings, keeping the Vikings close. Smith moved to first base starting the sixth when her pitching arm tightened up.
“The changing of the (pitching) speeds is the reason why the scores stayed down,” Neitling said. “They started to play the same way we do with the short game.”
South Tahoe got out of a sixth-inning jam when Backinger snared a line drive at shortstop and threw to first baseman Smith for a double play.
“You could tell we just really wanted this one. We were so close against Bishop Manogue, and they are feared,” Backinger said. “We weren’t going to let errors get in the way. We were going to try as hard as we could.”
An inning earlier, Smith got out of a bases-loaded one-out jam when the starting pitcher threw to catcher Melissa Ewing on a bunt attempt for a force out, then third baseman Missy Miller cleanly fielded a groundball and threw to first for the third out.
“Some of the defense we played today is some of our best defense,” Neitling said. “Lately we’ve been playing really well defensively. It’s offensively where we’re having a tough time.
“From where we were at the beginning of the season to where we are now, I’m proud of them.”
South Tahoe dropped to 4-20 overall, including 0-15 in league play. Bishop Manogue (14-5 overall), ranked fifth in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll, improved to 10-5 in league.
“I was very surprised. We’ve watched their scores,” Hargrove said. “I thought they represented very well.”
The Vikings begin a three-game home series against Wooster on Thursday.
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